The United Democratic Movement (UDM) in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) is vindicated by the South African Human Rights Commission’s report, which has been a warning to uMzinyathi District Municipality against infringing the Msinga Community’s right to access water, which is guaranteed by Section 27(1)(b) of the Constitution.

The South African Human Rights Commission’s report notes that, as a general issue, challenges in access to sufficient water are not related to the scarcity of water resources itself, but more to the delivery of water by municipalities to customers. It alludes that, the water delivery issues are mostly occasioned by poor management, the lack of proper planning, the lack of accountability and leadership, and the failure to prioritize critical components necessary for effective service

The report also states that since 2020, the Commission has received more than 600 complaints relating to challenges in access to water in all district municipalities in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, alluding to the fact that complaints received include instances of no access to water for more than seven days.

However, this was a blanket investigation for the whole province of KZN taking into consideration what has been submitted by individual complainants on various complaints; The UDM filed a complaint with the SAHRC, against uMzinyathi District Municipality on behalf of the Msinga Community in 2019; that particular matter has not been finalised yet – the reason given is that this matter is constantly sent back and forth between the relevant Commissioner and the SAHRC’s Provincial Office in KZN for various faults to be corrected before the Commissioner signs it off – it has been a never-ending ‘back-and-forth’ game.

The Commission has recommended that the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) must annually monitor the municipalities’ implementation of the Blue Drop and Green Drop report findings, including technical measures proposed, and report to the Commission on an annual basis. Engage with COGTA and local councils on annual municipal infrastructure self-assessment findings, monitor take-up of recommendations, and report to the Commission annually. Leverage municipal access to grants to encourage municipalities to improve and update their water service delivery and infrastructure among other recommendations.

The UDM is particularly happy because, for the first time in history, there is now a control measure put in place by the Commission to ensure that municipalities are compliant with the recommendations whereby a yearly report must be filed and that where there is non-compliance, COGTA may move in at speed by invoking section 139. The findings and recommendations are a step in the right direction.

Issued by:
Mr Joseph Mngonyama
UDM KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Secretary